Retain the essential Child Health Clinic in Wapping Group Practice

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After approximately 30 years of having a Children's Health Visitor (Baby) clinic held in Wapping on a weekly basis, the GP Care Group have this week quietly announced that the service will be closed effective the 9th of January 2019.  This decision appears to have been taken without consulting Wapping residents and represents a continuation of their efforts to chip away at public services in our area.

Currently based in The Wapping Group practice on Monday mornings from 9.30am - 11.15am, 2 Health Visitors and 1 Support worker will each week regularly receive in excess of 35 babies and children (predominantly babies up to 1-year-old) for essential health check-ups.  This includes weighing, measuring and talking with the parents through any challenges or concerns they may have in regards to their child's health and development. 

This is a critical service for ensuring the health & wellbeing of young children in Wapping, it is often one of the few trips outside that new mothers will make after having given birth and it provides a very important source of interaction with other members of the community who are going through similar parenting challenges, helping to reduce the feelings of isolation.  

From the 9th January 2019, the two 'local' child health clinics available for Wapping parents and their babies/children will involve a lengthy journey on foot or via public transport.

The first is Ocean's Children Centre (E1 0ND) which is in Stepney. This will require a 24minute (1.2mile) walk from the current location and will involve crossing both The Highway (A1203) and the A13, which are some of the most polluted, heavily trafficked, and the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in all of Tower Hamlets. This journey would pass by the site of 6 separate traffic collisions which resulted in serious or fatal injuries for pedestrians in an 8 month period during 2017.

The second is Bigland Children's Centre (E1 2JP) which is located in between Shadwell and Whitechapel.  It is closer to Whitechapel Overground station than it is Wapping station, sadly the lack of step-free access to the train platforms at Wapping or Whitechapel means this is not a viable option for most new mothers with pushchairs. This journey would involve almost a mile walk, including crossing The Highway (A1203) and navigating Cannon Street Rd which is also heavily trafficked and in some sections, the pedestrian footpaths are too narrow/blocked to allow a pushchair to pass safely.

Neither of these options are adequate replacements for the current service located in the heart of Wapping, which also provides convenient access to other health professionals (GP's/Nurses) if a child needs more specialist treatment.

Sadly this issue does not just affect those with young children, as the Health Visitor clinics provide an essential buffer from regular GP appointments.  If new parents are unwilling or unable to make the trek to one of the new locations, it is likely that they will default to booking a same-day appointment to see a GP instead.  This will increase the pressure on the GP's who are already overloaded and no doubt increase the already substantial waiting times for other patients.

The Wapping Group Practice has over 10,000 registered patients with approximately 66% of those aged 44 or younger and therefore likely to have or be planning to have children.  It is essential that the decision to close the Child Health Clinic is reversed immediately and no further changes are made to this service without a full and open consultation with the residents of Wapping.

Please sign this petition and give your support to our efforts to retain this service.